Wednesday, May 1, 2013

321/365: Embracing Solitude

During this past year of my 365 challenge, I've spent a great deal of time alone- thinking, journaling, painting, creating. I've lived inside of my head more than ever before. It's been a rather solitary existence, but I needed it. One benefit of my solitude has been the gift of time. It's amazing how many hours can be reclaimed by turning inward rather than tuning in to social media and filling my schedule with social events. My desire for company and my need to go and do has been replaced by my craving for time alone, staying home and just being. I love to have nothing to do for long blocks of time so I can access the parts of my creative mind that are only reached in quiet patient moments of contemplation.

Solitude has its pros and cons, of course. Some days, I find myself in solitary confinement with my comically neurotic mind. Other days, I enjoy the sweet quiet bliss where poems are born and brave independent thoughts are formed. Just like any other close relationship, I occasionally get on my own nerves, and other times I am my most understanding and supportive friend. There are days when I crave connection and a supportive creative community. I feel as if I am needing that more as time passes, but the time alone was important, even if it did make me out to be a bit of a hermit.

The greatest gift of all has been a deeper self knowing, an understanding of the workings of my mind and the yearnings of my spirit. I've built an intimacy between my art and myself. It is much like my younger days, before my brothers were born- hours alone in my own imaginary worlds, drawing, writing, playing games of pretend. I was never bored. I am still never bored. There is so much exploring to do in this inner landscape. My writing, photography and art have been the ideal ways of documenting and expressing my findings. 

I notice it more, having family in town the last week and with more on the way, my time alone has been missed. I am feeling disconnected from myself and therefore, somewhat disconnected from my creativity. I see now how valuable solitude is to my creative output. The quiet time to process all the visual and emotional stimuli in my world is what brings on the spark of great ideas and allows me to bring the ideas to life.

I have visions of living alone in the woods, like Henry David Thoreau on Walden Pond. My husband would have a cabin down the road and we would have regular picnics and slumber parties, each retreating back to our own quiet spaces during our most creative hours, to work on our art and our selves.

We must not be afraid to be alone with ourselves. It is such a crucial part of self-discovery.

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